Baby Has Outgrown Their Nap Schedule
In some cases, the secret to how to get baby to take longer naps is making sure theyre actually tired. Your child may need longer awake windows to have time to build up more sleep pressure in between naps.
What to do: Make sure your childs nap schedule is age-appropriate, and adjust as needed. Here are my recommendations for a childs nap schedule by age.
When To Expect Longer Stretches Of Sleep
As new or expecting parents, the biggest concern we all have is regarding sleep… your sleep and your baby’s sleep. Yes, it is true, you get a lot less sleep when your baby is born. However, the good news is that these tireless times also come with some of the most amazing moments as you experience a whole new level of love that you almost didn’t know… And the other good news is that after reading this, you will be able to tell when your baby is primed for some longer stretches of sleep at night, which means more sleep for you too!
At 6- to 8-weeks-old, night time sleep is becoming more organized, and you can expect a longer 4 to 6 hour stretch of sleep at night . The first important thing to take into consideration is your baby’s developmental age. So, you need to take into account the due date, not the date born. So, for example, if your baby was due on Nov 16, 2015 but was born on Nov 2, 2015 , your baby will be 6 weeks on Dec 21, 2015. Basically, you will be determining your baby’s “age” from your due date. Once your baby’s developmental age reaches the 6- to 8-week mark, there are a couple signs you can look out for to know that your child is biologically ready for these longer stretches of sleep
Give Your Baby A Chance To Self Soothe
Some babies take to putting themselves to sleep all on their own, enough for 11-12 hours of nighttime sleep. Most, however, need a little bit of help.
For instance, your baby might rely on you to rock or nurse him to take a nap. So, when you put him down, he startles himself awake and doesnt know how to continue sleeping.
One truck? Give him a chance to self soothe, not just for the evenings, but to stretch his naps as well.
Yes, he might fuss and cry, but thats not what puts him to sleep. Crying is his way to communicate his frustration at not having his usual nap routine of rocking or nursing. Instead, sleep training is a way for him to learn how to fall asleep on his own.
When he has relied on so many sleep aids to do so, it can be tough to wean him from them. Self soothing gives him the opportunity to learn to sleep on his own, including the times he wakes up halfway through a nap.
Free resource: Want to learn more? Start by avoiding these 5 mistakes that are keeping him from self-soothing. Whether youve tried to teach him to self soothe in the past or are just now considering it, take a look at the 5 key mistakes to avoid. Youll also get my newsletters, which parents say they LOVE:
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Balance Your Babys Wake Windows
Finding the right balance of keeping your baby awake is key, especially right before bed. You want him tired enough to want to fall asleep, but not too tired that hes cranky and inconsolable right when you want him to sleep.
Newborns in general shouldnt stay awake past 90 minutes, so experiment with his last wake window to find when hes tired, but not overtired.
To start, avoid timing his last nap too close to bedtimethat way, he still has a chance to be awake before sleeping for the night. Prevent him from feeling overtired by either looking for sleep cues or watching the clock and making sure he hasnt been awake too long.
This goes for all his wake windows throughout the day, too. The more rested he is during the day, the better he can sleep at night.
Free resource: Want to learn more about how his awake time might be affecting how well he sleeps? Join my newsletter and get One Mistake Youre Making with Your Babys Awake Timeat no cost to you. Dont make the same mistakes I didhelp him fall asleep with this one simple trick! Grab it below:
The Best Baby Sleep Tips Ever
Sleep experts share their top tricks for putting your little one to bed. Get ready: You’re about to take back your nights.
So you’ve stepped past delirium and are about to completely lose your mind from lack of sleep. Don’t worry, all new parents have been there. Here are our top expert-approved baby sleep tips.
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Dont Play The Blame Game
Brooding about the situation will make it harder for you to fall asleep when you are given the opportunity. And its wrong-headed, too: You might be doing everything you can to get more sleep, and still be stuck with a baby who sleeps less than average.
Research suggests that the amount of sleep we get at night is strongly influenced by genetics , and, as mentioned above, there is a lot of individual variation among newborns.
The Truth About Babies And Nighttime Sleep
While in the womb, your baby was asleep most of the time and received a steady stream of nourishment around the clock. But all of that drastically changed the moment your baby was born. Suddenly, your little one had to learn how to be awake and eat on their own.
That’s a lot for a newborn to accomplish, and it takes time. Eating and sleeping dominate your baby’s schedule as all the developmental changes that they need to survive and thrive in the outside world take place.
As babies burn through calories and nutrients, their hunger wakes them up. In the beginning, this happens frequently, around the clock.
A newborn consumes only about 40 to 80 calories per feeding. This means a newborn will need six to eight feedings per day, on average, resulting in a sleep schedule that cycles every two to four hourseven at night. Sleeping through the night is not only an unrealistic expectation for a newborn. It’s an unhealthy one, too.
Keep in mind that these are just approximations, not milestones that your baby needs to reach. If your baby is a month old and is still not sleeping four hours at night, try not to worry. It’s important to respond to your baby’s hunger cues. Between daytime naps and nighttime sleep, your baby should be consistently getting a healthy amount of sleep for their age and developmental stage.
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Teach Your Babies And Kids To Sleep Independently
It may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes you are the reason why your baby can’t fall asleep or stay asleep. According to Kelly Murray, certified pediatric and adult sleep consultant and sleep coach for Motherfigure, learning sleep independence is key for babies and kids.
“Instead of being rocked or fed to sleep, they should be put in their cribs wide-awake to fall asleep on their own. This will allow them to fall asleep more quickly, as well as to sleep for longer stretches throughout the night,” says Murray. According to Murray, this happens because babies sleep in cycles and wake up briefly after each stage of the cycle. “During the arousal, they do a quick scan to make sure their environment is consistent with bedtime. This is a protective mechanism to ensure there is no danger,” says Murray.
“If you’re helping your baby to fall asleep , then they will be alarmed that they are no longer in your arms, which will lead to a full wake-up. They will then need you to help them fall back to sleep,” says Murray. This is why it’s important to let them learn to sleep on their own so when they wake up, they can go back to sleep without being alarmed or scared.
Mixing Up Day And Night
What it looks like: Your baby sleeps all day, but then stays up all night long .
How to solve it: Your newborns nocturnal ways should correct themselves as she adjusts to life on the outside, but there are a few things you can do to help baby differentiate between day and night, including limiting daytime naps to three hours, and making clear distinctions between day and night .
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Establishing A Baby Bedtime Routine
You may feel ready to introduce a bedtime routine when your baby is around 3 months old. Getting them into a simple, soothing bedtime routine can be helpful for everyone and help prevent sleeping problems later on. It’s also a great opportunity to have one-to-one time with your baby.
The routine could consist of:
- having a bath
- changing into night clothes and a fresh nappy
- putting them to bed
- dimming the lights in the room to create a calm atmosphere
- giving a goodnight kiss and cuddle
- singing a lullaby or having a wind-up musical mobile you can turn on when you’ve put your baby to bed
- brushing their teeth
As your child gets older, it can be helpful to keep to a similar bedtime routine. Too much excitement and stimulation just before bedtime can wake your child up again. Spend some time winding down and doing some calmer activities, like reading.
Don’t Rely On Soothing Methods
“If you put your baby in the crib when they’re already asleep and they wake up in the night, which all humans do, they won’t recognize their surroundings and will need your help getting back to sleep,” notes Dr. Givan. “Try to put your baby down drowsy but awake.” This will help them learn to self-soothe and fall asleepand, more importantly, fall back to sleepon their own, which is the main goal of sleep training.
Adrienne Porzio of Centerport, New York, can attest to this. She began driving her newborn around at night to get her to fall asleepand she was still relying on that crutch when her daughter was 5 months old. “The issue we get the most calls about is parents automatically repeating soothing habits to the point that the baby is hooked,” says Los Angeles sleep consultant Heather Turgeon, coauthor of The Happy Sleeper. Newborns benefit from rocking, bouncing, and soothing to sleep, but babies develop quickly and don’t need those things forever.
“By about 5 months, most babies have the capability to fall asleep on their own, and if we’re still doing it for them, we’re getting in their way,” says Turgeon. “Start practicing in the early months to put Baby down awake, at least once a dayusually the first nap is the most successful.” Keep your cuddle time, but gradually stop the patting and shushing and rocking to sleep.
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Keep Your Newborn Close At Night
This will allow you to quickly feed your baby before shes fully awake during the night. Co-sleeping parents often get more sleep because mom and babys sleep cycles align with one another. If you choose to co-sleep, please follow safe co-sleeping guidelines.
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Move To A New Sleeping Arrangement
I often laid my babies to nap in a crib or bassinet because thats where I wanted them to get used to sleeping. Problem is, they preferred sleeping in other snug arrangements, whether in my arms, a swing or even a stroller.
The trick that worked? I transferred them from their original sleeping arrangement to a second one they preferred once they began stirring. For instance, Id move them from the crib to the swing or a baby wrap to lull them back to sleep.
If they were hungry, had a soiled diaper, or were ready to wake up, then the secondary sleeping arrangement wouldnt be much help. But if they woke up only because they needed help falling back asleep, moving them to the swing or a baby wrap often did the trick.
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Sleep Problems: 6 Months Old And Up
These days your babys sleep pattern likely looks a whole lot different than it did just a few short months ago.
At 6 months, your baby should clock 10 to 11 hours of sleep at night and take two or three naps during the day.
Whats more, babies who are 6 months old and up are completely capable of sleeping through the night. And yet, there are still plenty of things that can disrupt their snooze time.
Change Your Babys Diaper Before A Dream Feed
If possible, change your babys diaper BEFORE a dream feed. Doing it after a dream feed might wake up your baby too much and they might struggle to go back to sleep.
If you notice that they will usually poop right after a dream feeding, then try changing their diaper at least, 30 minutes after dream feeding them.
Remember to use overnight diapers to avoid diaper leaks. Read more tips on changing diapers, especially at night here.
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So When Do Babies Develop Mature Circadian Rhythms
Its normal for babies to take 12 weeks, or even longer.
Most infants take about 12 weeks to show day-night rhythms in the production of melatonin . Circadian changes in cortisol, a hormone that helps regulate alertness, may take even longer to emerge . And, overall, babies may take 3-5 months before they settle at nightmeaning that they sleep for more than 5 hours at a stretch .
Nevertheless, newborn sleep isnt completely divorced from the natural rhythms of the 24-hour day. Studies show that circadian rhythms begin developing in the first days after birth.
For example, German and Japanese studies have reported that newborns sleep more at night than they do during the day .
And scientific evidence suggests that even newborns are receptive to environmental cues about time. You can take advantage of this fact to help shape newborn sleep patterns.